SECRET  SOCIETIES


by  David  V.  Barrett



THE ROOTS




The history of secret societies is the history of esoteric religion, and is the history of magic. Whatever their current practices and teachings, appearances and priorities, the majority of secret societies have religious roots. Religion is as old as man, and the priest vies with the prostitute and the spy among the world's oldest professions. This chapter examines briefly some of the many religious influences on present-day secret societies, from the earliest times up to the late Middle Ages.


It should be noted that the dates given for some of the early teachers and writers vary from source to source. Also, the mythologies, philosophies and religious movements in this chapter do not necessarily follow each other sequentially; many of them overlap each other.


Primitive society


The origins of religion are both external and internal. Primitive man was far more at the mercy of the elements than we are today: thunder, lightning, wind, rain, floods, scorching sun and drought, all affected his daily life. Above him was the sky, with the mysteries of the sun by day, and the moon and stars by night. What were these lights? Why did they move across the heavens at different times of day and month and year, and why did they change in brilliance and shape and size? The heat and light of the sun gave life. When it was at its weakest in midwinter, how could they be sure that it would return to life-giving strength again? You put a seed into the ground, and it becomes food. The corn dies, and then comes back to life again.


It's easy to see how Gods developed, from the great powers of nature, powers beyond man's control. Could the powers be entreated? If sacrifices were made to them, would they respond favourably? What was the most efficacious way to approach the powers? Was it dangerous to do so? Could anyone do this, or was it a specialist task, a skill, an art, a power in itself?


And so priests developed


There were other questions to which man wanted answers. What happens when someone dies? Will I die? What will happen to me when I die? If there is another life after death, of what form is it? Where is it? Is it good or bad? How can I ensure it will be good? If there is life after death, was there life before birth? If crops live and die and come to life again, does the same hold true for people? And then a further set of questions. Where do I go to in my dreams? Why can't I bring things back from them? Do dreams foretell the future? Who can tell me what they mean?


Further, in a time where injury or illness could easily lead to death, the person with knowledge of the right treatments, the right herbs, became honoured, one of the most important members of the tribe.


The priest, or shaman, or medicine man knew the right rituals to ensure the return of the sun each year. He knew how best to bring rain, or to bring good crops, or a good hunt, or a victory over a neighbouring tribe. He knew the meanings of signs and omens, and the hidden meanings of dreams, and he could travel at will in his own dreams to the lands of the spirits. He knew how to heal, and how to curse. He was a man of wisdom, whom even the tribal chieftain would consult for advice.


No one lives forever, so one of the priest's most important jobs, for the well-being of the tribe, was to train his own successor in the complicated lore of his work. As the role became more powerful, so the knowledge became more closely guarded; the link between power and secrecy was formed. As societies developed and became more complex, so did religion in its outer, more public, forms: exoteric religion - and so did the secret knowledge, and the secrecy of the knowledge, at the heart of religion: esoteric religion. The two became more and more separate, until the inner secrets of religion became hidden not just from the public, but also from many of the priesthood.


THOU  THE  TRUE  GOD  HAD  A  PRIESTHOOD  UNDER  THE  OLD  COVENANT,  WITH  A  TEMPLE,  SACRIFICES,  AND  WHAT  YOU  MIGHT  CALL  "RITES"  -  GOD'S  RELIGION  WAS  LAID  OUT,  COULD  BE  KNOWN,  IT'S  LAWS,  AND  THE  WAY  OF  LIFE  IT  PRONOUNCED,  COULD  BE  KNOWN  -  IT  WAS  NOT   A   SECRET;  ALL  COULD  KNOW  WHAT  THE  LOWLIEST  AND  THE  MOST  PRESTIGIOUS   PERSON  IN  THE  LAND  HAD  TO  LIVE  BY  -  Keith Hunt


Between the Tigris and the Euphrates


In the light of late twentieth-century political and religious repression, it is perhaps strange to remember that the cradle of civilization lay in present-day Iraq, in the fertile land which included the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, and the cities of Baghdad to the north and Basra to the south, at the top of the Persian Gulf. The Sumerians lived around the southern Euphrates over 6,000 years ago; the Akkadians, the name given to a Semitic race who settled in Sumer and Akkad - specifically Babylon - 5,000 years ago.


These peoples had agriculture, cities, and a sophisticated society, with an organized religion and priesthood, and stepped temples, the ziggurats. Sumerian, Babylonian and Assyrian mythology lies behind the mythology of the tribe of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob from which sprang the Jewish religion and, later, Christianity. It has been shown that many of the Hebrew myths can be traced back to the much earlier Babylonian or Sumerian versions.


DEPENDS  WHAT  "MYTHS"  YOUR  TALKING  ABOUT.  WHAT  GOD  GAVE  TO  ADAM,  NOAH,  ABRAHAM,  MOSES  AND  THE  LIKE,  ARE  NO  MYTHS;  THEY  ARE  THE  TRUTHS  OF  THE  ONE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Islam, which also honours the Jewish patriarchs and prophets, began on what is now the southwest coast of Saudi Arabia in the early seventh century CE, and spread rapidly, moving into present-day Iraq and Iran within a few years of Muhammad's death, with the effect that there was a strong Persian influence on the religion in its very early days.


It is worth noting that when the people now known as Akkadians moved into Sumer, gradually assimilating rather than displacing the Sumerians, they brought their own language, though they adopted the cuneiform writing of the Sumerians. But they continued to use the Sumerian language, rather than their own, for religious ritual, which meant that eventually, priestly secrets were spoken in 'the language of the Gods', and were hidden from the ordinary people.


THE  TRUE  GOD  HAD  NO  SECRET  LANGUAGE;  HIS  WAY  OF  LIFE  AND  HIS  COVENANT  WITH  ANCIENT  ISRAEL  WAS  LAID  DOWN  -  OPEN  FOR  ALL  TO  KNOW  -  Keith Hunt


There is not space to outline all the Mesopotamian myths - Sumerian, Babylonian/Akkadian and Assyrian - but many are still known today: the Creation myth and the Flood myth, with their biblical counterparts, the descent of Inanna or Ishtar into the Underworld, the Gilgamesh myth, and others.


BUT  THE  TRUTHS  OF  GOD  WERE  WRITTEN  DOWN  BY  MOSES  IN THE  FIRST  5  BOOKS  OF  THE  BIBLE  -  NO  MYTHS  -  Keith Hunt


One reason for Evangelical Christians' distrust of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism and other esoteric forms of religious belief is the Evangelicals' insistence on both the literal truth and the uniqueness of the Bible stories, and the more liberal esoteric movements' acceptance of them, and of their non-biblical equivalent myths, as allegorical and as equal in value.


INDEED  THE  FUNDAMENTAL  EVANGELICAL  CHRISTIAN  BELIEVES  THE  TRUE  GOD  HAS  AN  "INSPIRED"  WORD  -  THE  CHRISTIAN  BIBLE,  WITHOUT  THE  APOCRYPHA   WHICH  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHURCH  ADDS  -  SO  FOR  ME  THE  BIBLE  IS  INSPIRED,  AND  HAS  NO  MYTHS  -  Keith Hunt


All pantheons (to use the Greek term) have family relationships between Gods, sometimes with rival families, and usually with rivalry within families. Gods argue, trick, fight and kill each other, resembling humans in this respect. The myths of disputes between Gods, such as Dumuzi and Enkimdu in Sumerian mythology, or between men, such as Cain and Abel in Hebrew mythology, often reflect major societal changes in the peoples, such as (in both these cases) the shift from a nomadic, pastoral lifestyle to a settled, agricultural life. Other conflicts between the Gods might be folk-memories of battles for supremacy between different cities, different cultures, different peoples. It has long been observed that in Celtic countries, when a new race of people move in and take control from the original peoples - who are often more primitive and closer to the land, and have a relationship with the spirits of the land which the newcomers fear and envy - the original peoples eventually become 'the little people' in the folk memory of the invaders.


AGAIN  IN  THE  WORLD  THAT  IS   TRUE,  BUT  NOT  FOR  THE  TRUE  PEOPLE  OF  THE  ONE  TRUE  GOD  -  HIS  WORD  IS  INSPIRED,  WITH  NO  MYTHS  AND  SECRET  MYSTERY  INVOLVED  -  Keith Hunt


Zoroastrianism


Zoroastrianism, named after the Persian priest Zoroaster or Zarathustra, can lay claim to be the first significant monotheistic religion, with tremendous influence on the 'Religions of the Book' (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) which followed it. (These religions' beliefs in one God, heaven and hell, the resurrection of the dead, the final judgement and the eventual victory of good over evil all stem from Zoroastrianism.) It eventually became the state religion of the Persian Empire, and remained strong until the Muslim invasions of the seventh century CE.


NOPE,  IT  HAD  NO  INFLUENCE  OF  THE  RELIGION  OF  THE  TRUE  ONE  GOD,  HIS  RELIGION  HAS  ALWAYS  REMAINED  PURE  TO  THOSE  TRUE  BELIEVERS  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD;  MANY  FALSE  TEACHERS  HAVE  RISEN,  WITH  FALSE  DOCTRINES  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD,  BUT  GOD'S  TRUE  PEOPLE  HAVE  ALWAYS  KNOWN  THE  FALSE  FROM  THE  TRUTH  -  Keith Hunt


Zarathustra, who lived either around 660-583 BCE or possibly as early as 1000 or even 1400 BCE, reformed the complex ritual - and sacrifice-ridden polytheism of Persia (modern-day Iran) by declaring that there was only one God, Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord; all the other Gods worshipped by the Persians were but assistants and servants of the supreme being. The purity of Ahura Mazda was represented by the purity of the flame, and Zoroastrians still worship over a living fire today. It is significant both that the Jewish God I AM spoke to Moses from a burning bush (Exodus 3:2,14), and that many present-day esoteric religious movements, including the Rosicrucians and the I AM-inspired Church Universal and Triumphant, represent God, and the God-presence within man, as a flame.


MANY  FALSE  RELIGIONS  HAVE  SOME  OF  THE  "LOOK-A-LIKE"  APPEARANCE  OF  THE  ONE  AND  ONLY  TRUE  RELIGION  OF  THE  ONE  AND  ONLY  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Although monotheistic, Zoroastrianism also taught the principle of a good power and an evil power. The latter, Angra Mainyu, with his demons is in control of the world though man, with his knowledge of God's law, is able to turn away from the dark to the light. This is probably the origin of the dualistic beliefs of the Gnostics.


The Wise Men of Matthew's Gospel and of every nativity play were Zoroastrians; was much trade between the Persians, Jews, the Greeks and the Egyptians, and the Syrian capital of Antioch, where Matthew probably wrote his
Gospel, was a busy trading port.


Some Zoroastrians today are known as Parsis or Parsees (Persians), especially in India, or as Mazda-yasnians (worshippers of Ahura Mazda).


INDEED  SOME  OF  THOSE  OUTSIDE  "RELIGIONS"  OF  THE  TRUE  RELIGION  OR  THEOLOGY,  DID  HAVE  INFLUENCE  BY  VARIOUS  WAYS [PEOPLE  OR  WRITINGS]  TO  TRUTHS  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD;  SO  THE  "WISE  MEN"  OF  MATTHEW'S  GOSPEL,  SOMEHOW  KNEW  CERTAIN  TRUTHS  FROM  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Mithraism


Mithra, or Mithras, was one of the Persian Gods subsumed into Zoroastrianism; he was lord of contracts and agreements, and was linked with the Sun. Mithraism was the popular religion in the Roman Empire from the second century to the fifth century CE, particularly with soldiers and officials of the Empire. While Zoroastrianism gave fairly equal treatment to men and women, Mithraism was a religion for men only.


SO  A  MADE-UP  MAN'S  RELIGION  RIGHT  UP  FRONT  -  Keith Hunt


Roman archaeological remains in Britain show that Mithraism was a far more widespread and important religion among the Romans than was Christianity. The latter religion as it developed borrowed much from the former. 


GARBAGE  TO  THAT  IDEA  -  Keith Hunt


Mithras was both a sun-God (the Persian Mihr means 'sun') and a saviour God; Plutarch referred to him as the Mediator between man and the supreme God. It is probable that the Mithraic day of worship was Sunday; one of the main festivals was held on the winter solstice, which was celebrated on 25 December. There is also evidence that followers of Mithras celebrated some form of ritual meal, though with bread and a cup of water rather than wine.


SO  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  BORROWED  THINGS  FROM  A  FALSE  MITHRA  RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt


Rituals were held in caves, cellars or temples decorated to look like caves to represent the 'cosmic cave' or universe. There were seven levels of initiation: Corvus (Raven), Nympbus (Bride), Miles (Soldier), Leo (Lion), Perses (Persian), Heliodromus (Runner of the Sun), and Pater (Father). It was not uncommon, for example, for a medium-ranking soldier to have progressed to a higher level of initiation than that of his military superior. Little is known of the rituals, except that they were held in secret, with only the initiated allowed to be present. It is thought that new initiates had to find their way through dark passages until they found the light: a clear symbolism. The ritual also apparently included a symbolic representation of death and resurrection. By no means all soldiers were members; but those who were had a special feeling of comradeship with each other in the outer world, and probably recognized each other with secret signs:


Although historically there can be little or no direct link between them, there are clear parallels with the structure, secrecy, rituals and men-only comradeship and mutual support of Freemasonry and other later initiatory societies.


SO  MUCH  OF  MODERN  "SECRET  SOCIETIES"  BASED  ON  OLD  ANCIENT  "SECRET   SOCIETIES"  OF  ONE  KIND  OR  ANOTHER  -  Keith Hunt


Mithraism was only one of several mystery religions in the centuries immediately before and after Christ. A mystery religion was a religio-magical cult, or society, which revealed its secrets, teachings and rituals only to the initiated; the word 'mystery' comes from Greek roots meaning 'secret thing or ceremony' and 'initiated one'. Initiation often involved a symbolic death and rebirth, and symbolism featured strongly in the other rituals. Furthermore, the secrets of the religion were revealed progressively, through a series of initiations, to fewer and fewer people as the initiates climbed the 'spiritual career path.'


NO  SUCH  SECRET  "STEP-UP-AT-A-TIME"  HIDDEN  SECRETS  TO  BE  SHARED  WITH  NO  ONE  A  STEP-DOWN  FROM  YOU,  IS  PART  OF  THE  TRUE  RELIGION  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Other mystery religions were based on, among other Gods, Dionysus, Isis and Osiris, Cybele and Attis, Demeter and Persephone (the Eleusinian mysteries), and Orpheus; this last, the Orphic movement, taught that there is a spark of the divine imprisoned deep inside the material nature of each person: a concept to be encountered throughout this book.


A  CONCEPT  TOTALLY  FALSE  AS  TAUGHT  BY  MODERN  GROUPS;  A  CONCEPT  THAT  HAS  THIS  MYSTERIOUS  TEACHING,  THAT  GOD  IS  IN  EVERYTHING  AND  IN  YOU,  IN  SOME  MYSTERY  WAY,  AND  YOU  CAN  UNLOCK  IT.  ALL  THIS  WITHOUT  AN  INSPIRED  BIBLE  OR  JESUS  CHRIST  AS  YOUR  SAVIOR  -  Keith Hunt


Pythagoras


Although Pythagoras (581-497 BCE) is chiefly known today for his mathematical work, he was one of the foremost religious philosophers of the centuries before Christ, and his influence on esoteric religion, and on secret societies, cannot be overestimated.


A  RELIGIOUS  PHILOSOPHER  WITHOUT  THE  KNOWLEDGE  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


The Encyclopaedia of Dates and Events says of him tersely, 'great philosopher and mathematician, but scientific approach was prejudiced by mysticism.'1 This is rather like saying that William Blake was a great poet and artist whose work was spoilt by his mysticism.


WELL  HE  SURE  WAS  NOT  TAUGHT  OR  INSPIRED  BY  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Pythagoras is said to have wandered for many years in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and perhaps as far east as India, studying religion, philosophy and science in an attempt to find a 'unified field theory' covering all knowledge. (Several founders of recent esoteric movements, including H.P. Blavatsky and Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, followed his example - whether in reality or in self-created myth.) In about 530 BCE Pythagoras settled in the Greek community of Croton in southern Italy, and set up an academy with very strict membership criteria.


Mathematics, music and astronomy all formed part of the teaching, not as discrete subjects in their own right, but as part of Pythagoras's system of belief, to which E.M. Forster's famous dictum 'Only connect!' would have applied admirably. Mathematics and geometry, the occult properties of numbers and the relationship between them, lay behind the whole world, and the heavens above. Pythagoras is believed to have formulated the idea of the musical octave, and explained the mathematical basis for musical intervals and harmonics. The entire universe is in vibration, singing, producing the 'music of the spheres'. He is reputed to have worked out the Golden Section, the mathematical ratio which lies behind much of the esoteric meaning of architecture (and hence ties in with the symbolism of Freemasonry).


SOME TRUTHS  HE  FOUND  AS  A  SCIENTIST  AND  MATHEMATICIAN      BUT  THE  TRUE  THEOLOGY  OF  GOD,  HE  NEVER  FOUND  -  Keith Hunt  


He taught reincarnation, a staple belief of the Western Mystery Tradition. He taught the relationship between man and the cosmos, microcosm and macrocosm; this naturally links with astrology, which at that time and for many more centuries was the same thing as astronomy. His teaching on the esoteric meaning of numbers still lies behind modern numerology.


SOME  TRUTH  MIXED  WITH  MUCH  ERROR  IS  A  POISONOUS   RELIGION  -  Keith Hunt


Like many other founders of occult societies, Pythagoras took on semi-divine characteristics to his followers; he was referred to as 'the harmonic deity', halfway between the Gods and men. He insisted on a strictly ascetic way of life, with many prohibitions on his followers; they had to follow a vegetarian diet, for example, but must not eat beans. Purity of body and behaviour, and complete dedication of mind, were essential.


It took three years to pass through the first stage of initiation, and five years to pass through the second; being a Pythagorean follower took great commitment.


A  MAN  MADE  RELIGION  OUTSIDE  OF  THE  DIVINE  GOD  WHO  GAVE  US  HIS  WORD  -  Keith Hunt


The ideas of Pythagoras greatly influenced Plato (429-347 BCE), one of the most influential Greek philosophers. It could fairly be said that without Pythagoras there would have been no Plato, and without Plato, no Neo-Platonism (which included Neo-Pythagoreanism), which was supremely influential in esoteric thought at the start of the Christian era, and during the Renaissance.


It has been suggested by some authorities either that Pythagoras was at some stage taught by the Druids of northwest Europe, or that he or his followers taught them.


MAYBE  EITHER  WAY  -  BUT  BOTTOM  LINE:  COMBINATION  OF  SOME  TRUTHS  WITH  MUCH  ERROR  -  Keith Hunt


Neo-Platonism


Neo-Platonism is a modern term for the last flowering of the Greek philosophers in the first five or six centuries CE; it absorbed teachings from various sources, and it strongly influenced both exoteric and esoteric Christianity. Many of the Church Fathers knew of Neo-Platonist thought - it was impossible for educated men, including Saint Paul, not to know of Greek philosophy in those early centuries - and some of the theological battles which ultimately resulted in the fixing of Christian dogma had their basis in the disagreements between proponents and opponents of Neo-Platonist ideas.


THE  TRUE  THEOLOGY  OF  GOD  WAS  NEVER  IN  DOUBT  AMONG  THE  TRUE  SERVANT  TEACHERS  AND  PEOPLE  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


More important for present consideration, however, is the influence that Neo-Platonism had on the esoteric side of Christianity and other major religions, and thus, ultimately, on secret societies.


MANY  FALSE  IDEAS  WERE  ADOPTED  BY  THE  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  -  Keith Hunt


Neo-Platonist ideas changed and developed over the centuries, as different leaders built on or disagreed with the teachings of their predecessors. As with Gnosticism there is no one set of Neo-Platonist beliefs. Thus, Plotinus (204/5-270) - who was opposed to magic - advocated virtue, chastity and the mystical contemplation of God. His pupil and successor, Porphyry (c. 232/4-c. 305), who edited Plotinus's works, sought practical ethical ways ('good works') for the soul to move to higher levels. His pupil Iamblichus (c. 250-c. 330) who, like Porphyry, wrote a Life of Pythagoras, stressed far more the experiential side of mystical philosophy: using religious ritual and magical rites for theurgy - invoking the power of God or spiritual beings. This emphasis was to cause conflict between Neo-Platonism and the nascent Christianity, and would also give the Roman Emperors an excuse to clamp down on non-Christian religious practices from time to time.


FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  DUKING  IT  OUT  WITH  FALSE  MYSTERY  TEACHINGS  -  Keith Hunt


So far as this book is concerned the two most important long-term legacies of Neo-Platonism on esoteric religion and secret societies were Iamblichus's emphasis on the experiential (i.e. the real power of ritual), and his teaching on the hierarchies of spiritual beings which, in a nutshell, found a solution to the dichotomy between polytheism and monotheism. There was one infinite, universal, incomprehensible God, above everything; philosophy (Greek: the love of wisdom) was the true means of approaching this God, while religions were lesser attempts to approach lesser Gods, who were effectively servants, or daemons, of the One God.


The word 'demon' is an incorrect rendering of daemon, which included both good and evil beings, and both lesser Gods and spirits of the dead. Its pejorative use specifically to mean evil spirits is a later Christian alteration of its meaning. Within Christian theology the term might be better replaced by 'principalities and powers' (Colossians 1:16), which are created by the one God, and which can be good or evil. Angels fall into much the same category.


The distinction between demons and daemons is important. Some Neo-Platonists taught theurgy, which might be called the raising of spirits, but is more correctly the calling down or invocation of good daemons. In the later ritual magic of the Hermetic Philosophers and alchemists, and the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (trivialized and misrepresented as 'black magic' by, for example, Dennis Wheatley novels), the idea was not usually to call on the devil and the infernal host - in fact, this was very rare and acknowledged to be extremely dangerous - but on the daemons, the lesser Gods, the angels, the principalities and powers, and the powerful spirits of those who had been spiritually powerful in their lives.


The concept of the One God, above and beyond all Gods, is central to the spiritual beliefs of secret societies. It explains why, although both Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism are essentially Christian in origin and expression, they are also open to those of other faiths, particularly the other Religions of the Book. The Great Architect of the Universe is not limited to Christianity.


AND  SO  THIS  IS  WHERE  THOSE SECRET  SOCIETIES  FALL  INTO  A  FALSE  MIND-SET  -  BE  WHATEVER  RELIGION  YOU  LIKE,  BUT  LET'S  ALL  BELIEVE  THERE  IS  A  ONE  GOD  WHO  IS  SUPREME;  IT  DE-EMPHASIZES  THE  ONE  HOLY  INSPIRED  BIBLE  AND  ONE  ONLY  SAVIOR  CHRIST  JESUS.  ON  THIS  TEACHING  ALONE,  THE  GROUPS  FALL  INTO  AN  ERROR  THAT  A  TRUE  CHRISTIAN  CANNOT  BE  A  PART  OF  -  Keith Hunt


Evangelical Christian opponents of Freemasonry, and anti-Masonic authors such as Stephen Knight and Martin Short, in attempting to tackle this point, really miss it entirely. The God of Freemasonry is not, as Knight and others claim, 'a compound deity composed of three separate personalities fused in one',2 an amalgam of Yahweh, Baal and Osiris in the sacred name Jahbulon. God might indeed be approached through this compound name, or through any of its constituent parts (assuming that this is the correct derivation) - or through any of the many other names of God over the millennia. Man is, after all, only human; it helps to have a name, a label, a set of attributes, to help one approach the ineffable. But God is not limited to these human-applied labels.


BUT  NOT  TEACHING  JESUS  CHRIST  AS  ONLY  SAVIOR  AND  THE  CHRISTIAN  BIBLE  AS  INSPIRED,  IS  A  THEOLOGY  THAT  THE  TRUE  CHRISTIAN  CANNOT  ACCEPT  OR  BE  PART  OF  SUCH  A  "RELIGIOUS"  ORDER  OR  GROUP  -  Keith Hunt


This belief in the One Supreme God also explains how mystical Jews, Christians and Muslims have been able to share their understanding throughout the centuries, as will be seen in discussions following.


HOW  HAVE  THEY  SHARED  THEM  IS  THE  QUESTION?  IF  NOT  LIKE  THE  FIRST  CENTURY  APOSTLES,  THEN  THEY  WERE  OFF  THE  MARK,  OUT  IN  LEFT  FIELD.  THE  TRUTHS  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD  AND  HIS  INSPIRED  NEW  TESTAMENT,  WILL  NEVER  BE  ABLE  TO  HOOK  ARMS  WITH  JEWS  AND  MUSLIMS  -  Keith Hunt


The Eastern Church was always more able to cope with the mystical aspects of Christianity, even before its formal split with Rome. Byzantium, or Constantinople, was a more flexible melting pot of different cultures and ideas than Rome could ever be. Byzantium-born St Maximus (580-662), for example, taught what in the West would have been seen as rampant heresy, that the ultimate aim of the worshipper is to become God. This position unites both the Neo-Platonist desire for ecstatic communion with pure being, and the early-Christian belief that full initiation made the devotee a christ.'3


Such beliefs lie at the heart of esoteric Christianity; it is hardly surprising that the Church, with its monopoly on salvation, has always tried to stamp out such an affront to its authority.


SO  THE  MANY  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  GROUPS,  HAD  VARIOUS  TRUTHS;  THEY  FOUGHT  AMONG  THEMSELVES  OVER  THIS  AND  THAT  THEOLOGY,  WHILE  ALL  WERE  ADOPTING  VARIOUS  IDEAS  AND  PRACTICES  FROM  THE  MYSTERY  RELIGIONS  OF  THE  PAST  AGES  -  Keith Hunt


Egypt


It is significant that the word 'alchemy', which will recur throughout this book, derives from the Arabic al kimiya, which almost certainly comes, via the Greek chemeia, from the old name for the Nile Delta in Egypt, khem, which means 'black earth': the deeply fertile, life-giving soil, dark silt from the Nile, amidst the arid desert. The allegorical connotations are unlikely to be accidental.


Although the true alchemy is the transformation of the soul, it should not be forgotten that the first (and the later) alchemists were also chemists. (Similarly, the distinction between astrologers and astronomers is relatively recent.) Those who knew the often spectacular effects of adding different amounts of different powders to each other, and heating them to specific temperatures, could combine being a scientist and a showman; and for outside observers, for ordinary people, both are forms of magic.


As far back as 2900 BCE, the Egyptians had discovered the secret of refining gold which, as a precious metal difficult to obtain, was reserved for royalty. The priests who guarded this secret were not just metal-workers but, in effect, early chemists. Religion, magic, secrecy, scientific knowledge, and the physical production of gold have thus been linked together for millennia.


YES  IN  VARIOUS  FALSE  RELIGIONS  -  Keith Hunt


Egyptian mythology is complex. As with all mythologies, it evolved over the centuries. But in contrast with Judaism, which developed into universal monotheism, it appears that the familiar pantheon of Osiris, Isis, Anubis and the rest was a later development, and that the earliest Egyptian belief was in one God, the Sun God Re or Ra.


In one of the earliest versions of the Egyptian creation myth, the Creator God Atum-Re, who has risen out of the primeval chaos alone, masturbates to create life. In early religion, sex was seen as a potent force. With humans, as with all animals, sex gives birth to new life; with the Gods it must surely be the same. Sexual energy, and the sexual fluids, are life-giving, powerful, sacred.


INDEED  MUCH  OF  THE  FALSE  PAGAN  RELIGIONS  OF  ANCIENT  TIMES,  DWELT  ON  "SEX"  WORSHIP  IN  ONE  FORM  OR  ANOTHER  -  Keith  Hunt


Just as Pythagoras travelled around the Middle East and possibly the Far East in his search for knowledge, and eventually settled his school in a Greek community in Italy, other philosophers spent years in countries not their own, learning and studying, comparing and assimilating knowledge.


BUT  LITTLE  IF  ANY  OF  THE  KNOWLEDGE  THE  JEWS  HAD  OF  THE  ONE  TRUE  GOD  AND  HIS  WORD  -  Keith Hunt


The study of comparative religion of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is nothing new; 2,000 years ago or more, scholars around the Mediterranean - i.e. the whole civilized, cultured world - looked at their Gods and the Gods of their neighbours and drew comparisons. The Roman and Greek Gods were, easy enough to match up, the Egyptian Gods a little less so, though when the Greeks ruled Egypt they were happy to identify Atum-Re the Creator God, with their own Zeus.


BUT  NONE  REALLY  TOOK  THE  JEWS  AND  THEIR  GOD  AND  HIS  WORD  IN  ANY  SERIOUS  WAY;  HENCE  MANY  MAN  MADE  RELIGIONS  -  Keith Hunt


Christianity spread into Egypt from its very beginning. Unlike the Greeks and Romans, the early Christians could not allow any other Gods under any other names; they could not accept that God the Father of Jesus could be identified with Zeus or Jove or Atum-Re as the One Creator God. In addition, the early Christians looked at the openly sexual nature of Egyptian mythology and were horrified. Origen, an Egyptian Christian, castrated himself in order to purify himself. The sinfulness, guilt and shame which Christianity has attached to sex from the time of the Church Fathers onwards quite possibly originated in an over-reaction against the religion of Egypt, and a determination to show itself to be different.


IT  WAS  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  GOING  INTO  FALSE  THEOLOGY,  INFLUENCED  INDEED  BY  FALSE  RELIGIONS  NEAR  AND  FAR  -  Keith Hunt


Hermes Trismegistus


There is considerable doubt as to when the works of Hermes Trismegistus were written, but it is certain that no one person by that name ever existed. The name means Hermes the thrice-greatest, Hermes being the Greek God of the spoken word - the logos - identified with Mercury, the winged messenger God of the Romans, and with Thoth, the Egyptian God of writing, itself a magical activity not understood by the common man. (Note that Mercury - both the astrological planet and the liquid metal - was of supreme importance in alchemy.) Thoth was the historian, and the creator of the all-important calendar by which not only history, but the movements of the Sun, Moon and stars could be measured. As the scribe of the Gods Thoth was the custodian of all knowledge. Knowledge is power; knowledge known only to the few is even more so. Under the intermingling of philosophers and religious scholars of different cultures, Thoth/Hermes became the God of esoteric knowledge and power. A priest, philosopher or magician whose works were ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus was the human amanuensis of the Gods.


Whoever or how many people 'he' was, Hermes Trismegistus was the author of what became known as the Hermetic texts, or the Corpus Hermeticum, hugely important early writing on esoteric religion. (The standard scholarly English edition of the Corpus Hermeticum, with commentaries, fills four large volumes.)

It was thought at one time that Hermes Trismegistus lived at around the time of Pythagoras, or perhaps of Moses; references in the Hermetic texts to the teachings of Jesus were believed to be prophetic foreshadowings of these great truths.


Later scholarship, however, has shown that the Corpus Hermeticum was written sometime in the first five centuries CE, largely in Egypt, as a fusion of Greek and Egyptian esoteric teachings.


The Hermetic texts were known to Islamic scholars in medieval times, but did not come to the attention of the West until they were translated into Latin in 1471 by the Italian Marsilio Ficino. The texts covered religion, philosophy, magic, medicine, alchemy and astrology, all of which were closely linked. They include Poimandres, a Gnostic text about the infinite light of God, and man's journey to enlightenment; and the Perfect Sermon of Asclepius, which speaks of the divine creative Unity above a hierarchy of spiritual beings, and of man, who possesses both body and spirit, having a divine nature.


The Emerald Tablet, or Tabula Smaragdina, is not strictly part of the Corpus Hermeticum, but some scholars see it as either the inspiration for, or a distillation of, the longer work. It contains the saying usually shortened to 'As above, so below', and discusses the Philosopher's Stone.


ALL  A  PART  OF  THE  WORLD  OF  PHILOSOPHY  AND  MAN  MADE  RELIGION,  DENOUNCED  VERY  STRONGLY  BY  THE  APOSTLE  PAUL  -  Keith Hunt


The Emerald Tablet begins:


It is true, without falsehood, and most real: that which is above is like that which is below, to perpetrate the miracles of one thing. And as all things have been derived from one, by the thought of one, so all things are born from this thing ….


It continues:


Here is the father of every perfection in the world. His strength and power are absolute when changed into earth; thou wilt separate the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross, gently and with care... By this means thou wilt have the glory of the world. And because of this, all obscurity will flee from thee. Within this is the power; most powerful of all powers. For it will overcome all subtle things, and penetrate every solid thing. Thus the world was created.


Within one short passage we have the ideas of the link between the macrocosm and the microcosm, of the One Creator God, and of the power of God being available to man. The words 'thou wilt separate the earth from fire, the subtle from the gross' refer to two of the traditional elements but, more importantly, speak - in what became known as alchemical terms - of spiritual transformation: the separation of the pure gold from the dross of base metals, the purification of the spirit from within the material body.


The translation of the Hermetic texts spurred the sixteenth-century alchemists and the seventeenth-century Hermetic Philosophers who, as will be seen, were of great significance not only in the continuation of esoteric teachings, but also in the development of modern-day science. The usage 'hermetic seal' reflects the strength of the secrecy: permanent and air-tight. This was not knowledge for the common man.


AND  SO  THE  PHILOSOPHERS  OF  OLD  HAD  FOUND SOME  TRUTHS;  ALL  SPIRITUAL  RELIGIONS  ON EARTH  HAVE  SOME  THRUTHS;  THAT'S  WHY  THEY  CAN  BE  SO  DECEPTIVE  AND  SO  APPEALING  AT  THE  SAME  TIME  -  Keith Hunt


Gnosticism


As with Pythagoras, the influence of Gnosticism on secret societies through the ages cannot be overstated.


The term Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis meaning 'knowledge'. One writer4 calls it 'religious existentialism', in that it deals with direct experience of the divine. The Gnostic looks within himself for the divine spark and, finding the God within, can apprehend the God without.


(Although the word 'apprehension' today usually means fear, uncertainty or disquiet, the SOED gives as a more primary meaning of 'apprehend', 'to lay hold of with the intellect; to see; to catch the meaning of.' The Gnostic would, in this sense of the word, apprehend, or take hold of, divine knowledge. Similarly the word 'comprehend' includes the meanings of 'to lay hold of; to overtake, or attain to; to accomplish; to grasp with the mind, take in; to apprehend with the senses'. The well-known verse of John 1:5, 'And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not' is a clear Gnostic reference.)


WELL  THE  GNOSTICS  ALSO  HAD  INSIGHTS  OF  TRUTH,  SO  DECEPTIVE  AND  APPEALING  AT  THE  SAME  TIME  -  Keith Hunt


Knowledge, here, equates with secret knowledge, hidden knowledge. The Bible has an exoteric meaning, open to all; but the Gnostic studies its esoteric meaning, open only to the few: the secrets of God, and of his creation.


It should be stressed, though, that the gnosis is not simply an intellectual knowledge, a learning of certain secret doctrines; present-day Gnostics, of whatever religion or movement, stress that it is the realization of God within. Like love, it is a knowledge of the heart as well as of the mind: a state of inner being.


Gnosticism is almost certainly pre-Christian, taking in elements of Zoroastrianism, Greek/Egyptian philosophy, and esoteric Judaism. Some have argued that the Essenes (whether based at Qumran or not5) were Gnostic, and some believe that Jesus was an Essene; if this was the case, though proof is lacking, it is only a short step to suggest that standard exoteric Christianity could actually be a debased descendant of Gnosticism, rather than vice versa. Certainly Gnosticism, though always attacked as a heresy, has had a major influence on Christian thinking, exoteric as well as esoteric.


WITH  THE  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  THIS  IS  CERTAINLY  TRUE;  WHEREAS  TRUE  CHRISTIANITY  TEACHES  GOD'S   TRUE  INSPIRED  WORD;  WHICH  MAY  AT  TIMES  BE  THE  SAME  AS  SOME  GNOSTIC  TEACHING.  ALL  RELIGIONS  AND  PHILOSOPHIES  WILL  IN  TIME  STUMBLE  UPON  SOME  TRUTHS  OF  THE  TRUE  GOD  -  Keith Hunt


Gnosticism has never been one religion in its own right, but more an approach to religion - or rather, to spirituality. Thus, although most Gnostics in the first few centuries were linked with Christianity, there have also been those within Judaism and Islam who have been Gnostic - and who have also usually been regarded as heretics by the orthodox establishment of their own religion.


AND  SO  FALSEHOOD  COMES  IN  MANY  SHAPES  AND  SIZES;  FALSEHOOD  WITHIN  FALSEHOOD;  FALSE  SECTS  WITHIN  FALSE  SECTS,  AND  THE  WHEEL  KEEPS  TURNING  -  Keith Hunt


It is easy to see why


One of the primary problems confronting all religious thinkers is the presence of evil. How could the good Creator God allow suffering on his Earth? If God is all-powerful, why is there pain, sorrow, death? All religions struggle with this question. Few answers are as logically compelling as that of Gnosticism.


We have seen how Zoroastrianism, although monotheistic, has both a spirit of light and a spirit of darkness. Some Gnostics took this idea further: there is not just a spirit but a God of good, and a God of evil: dualism rather than monotheism. Above all is the great God, the One, but below him is another God, who is actually the Creator God. This is the ultimate logical extension of the more common dualistic belief in body and soul, that the pure, eternal spirit is imprisoned in the dross of the material human body. That which is spiritual is of the good God; that which is material is of the evil God, and this includes the physical world, thus accounting for evil, pain, disease, earthquakes and the tsetse fly. The God who created the world, the demiurge, by whatever name he is known (including Yahweh), is the sub-ordinate God (or one of them) and therefore, in some forms of Gnosticism, the evil God. Ordinary people, through their ordinary religions, are thus worshipping the Evil One.


THE  PHILOSOPHY  THINKING  OF  SOME  GNOSTICS,  AS  THEY  TRY  TO  FIGURE  OUT  WHY  THERE  IS  EVIL;  OF  COURSE  THE  BIBLE  WOULD  TELL  THEM,  BUT  THEY  CAN'T  PUT  THEIR  FAITH  IN "JEWISH  WRITINGS"  -  Keith Hunt


This is a simplification of the complexities of one variant of Gnosticism, but it shows how far the beliefs could be from traditional Judseo-Christian theology.


Dualism lies at the heart of Gnosticism. Good and evil, light and dark, spirit and matter, life and death, truth and error, knowledge (gnosis) and ignorance and similar paired opposites occur in all Gnostic teachings.


AND  SO  THERE  IS  DUALITY  IN  GOD'S  WRITTEN  WORD;  MAKING  SOME  GNOSTIC  GROUPS  LOOKING  LIKE  THEY  COME  FROM  THE  LIGHT  AND  NOT  DARKNESS  [SEE  DUALITY  IN  THE  BIBLE],  HENCE  DECEPTIVE  AND  APPEALING  -  Keith Hunt


Gnostic beliefs were strong in the early centuries of Christianity, when the complexities of Christian dogma were being codified.6 Many of the more vitriolic pronouncements of the Church Fathers were attempts to counter the often appealing arguments and teachings of the Gnostics.


YES  JUST  SAID  THEY  WERE  APPEALING  WHILE  BEING  DECEPTIVE,  EVEN  SOME  OF  THE  "CHURCH  FATHERS"  COULD  SEE  THAT  -  A  DECEPTION  WITHIN  A  DECEPTION  -  Keith Hunt


There was also the not unimportant matter that the teachings of orthodox Christianity came via the bishops and priests of the Church, whereas Gnostics claimed special knowledge of and an individual revelatory relationship with God, and so were out of the control of the Church. A related, but more theological, issue was that the Church taught that God and man were separated by sin, and could only be brought together through the mediation of the priesthood, representing Christ. Gnostics, in contrast, believed that the spark of God was in each one of them; the gnosis, was the revelation or knowledge that they had divinity within them - that they were themselves, in effect, God, or at least, that God could be found within them.


VERY  WRONG  THEOLOGY,  THAT  EVEN  THE  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  OF  THE  "CHURCH  FATHERS"  COULD  SEE  HOW  WRONG  IT  WAS,  AND  SO  SPOKE  AGAINST  IT  -  DECEPTION  WITH  A  DECEPTION  IS  VERY  DECEPTIVE  -  Keith Hunt


Without its monopoly on salvation, both bestowing it and removing it through excommunication, the Church would have no power.


One of the earliest Christian writings, Against Heresy by Irenseus, Bishop of Lyons - written in 180 CE - was a polemic against Gnosticism. The battle for supremacy against Gnosticism was no doubt also reflected in editorial changes to the Nascent New Testament, which did not take its final authorized form until as late as 367 CE.7 Many gospels and epistles completely unfamiliar to later Christians were in circulation in the early centuries. The Church Fathers eventually defined orthodoxy (though many of them had heterodox beliefs themselves; Saint Augustine was a follower of the major Gnostic religion Manieharism for twelve years), and effectively selected for the New Testament those writings which best reflected the Church's official teachings. A lot of writings were condemned as heretical, and suppressed; many of these were completely lost until a collection of early documents was found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945. The Gospel of Thomas and The Acts of Thomas are strongly Gnostic, while the beautiful poem The Thunder, Perfect Mind is a hymn not so much to the Goddess as to Sophia, the female wisdom aspect of God, who is found in early heterodox beliefs.


THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  WAS  NOT  CANONIZED  BY  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHURCH.  IT  WAS  FORMED  AND  CANONIZED  BY  THE  FIRST  APOSTLES  OF  JESUS  CHRIST  IN  THE  FIRST  CENTURY  AD.  THERE  IS  A  FULL  IN-DEPTH  STUDY  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  ABOUT  THE  TRUTH  OF  THE  CANONIZATION  OF  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT  -  Keith Hunt


The Gospel of Thomas is thought by some to be the lost source document known by scholars as Q, or the Sayings of Jesus, which lies behind Matthew, Mark and Luke, the Synoptic Gospels; it is probably related to that source. It contains a number of sayings which have been excised from orthodox scripture, including several with a distinctively Gnostic flavour. It begins, 'These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down'; Didymos means 'twin', and in early Syrian Christian tradition the apostle Thomas was Jesus' twin brother. (The doctrine of the 'perpetual virginity' of Mary, stressing Jesus' physical uniqueness as the child of Mary, is among other things a clear attempt to dispose of such troublesome characters as Didymos.)


Jesus said to them, 'When you make the two one, and when you make the inside like the outside and the outside like the inside, and the above like the below, and when you make the male and the female one and the same .. . then you will enter the kingdom' (The Gospel of Thomas: 22).8


Note the echo of 'that which is above is like that which is below' from Hermes Trismegistus's Emerald Tablet.


THIS  GOSPEL  OF  THOMAS  I  HAVE  READ;  IT  IS  UN-INSPIRED  AND  BETTER  TO  HAVE  STAYED  DEAD  -  BUT  DECEPTION  RAISES  ITS  HEAD  AT  DIFFERENT  TIMES  -  Keith Hunt


In the Acts of the Apostles (8:9-24) there is an account of one Simon, who 'beforetime in the same city used sorcery'; he believes and is baptized, but when he sees 'the miracles and signs' of the apostles, he tries to buy the same power for himself, and is rebuked by Peter. (He bequeathed to us the word 'simony', meaning the purchase of offices in the Church.) There are non-biblical stories of Simon Magus, a powerful Gnostic magician, and his battle of magical powers with Simon Peter. They may have some basis in fact, but it is more likely that these tales developed later as an expansion of the brief biblical account, for Christian propaganda purposes (after a succession of tit-for-tat magic, Simon Peter takes away Simon Magus's power of flight, and the latter plunges to his death, thereby proving the supremacy of the Christian God) - but the very fact that the stories were told shows that the early Christians saw Gnosticism, including Simonian Gnosticism, as a force to be reckoned with. Irenaeus claimed that 'all heresies take their origin' from Simon Magus. Note also that Gnostics were seen not just as people with a false religion, but as people with real magical powers.


OH  INDEED  MAGICAL  POWERS  CAN  COME  IN  VARIOUS  FALSE  GROUPS;  SATAN  THE DEVIL  AND  HIS  DEMONS  ARE  POWERFUL  -  Keith Hunt


St Paul, who was certainly familiar with Neo-Platonist thought, inveighed against heretical beliefs in his epistles. He writes of 'another Jesus, whom we have not preached' (II Corinthians 11:4), and rebukes those who preach 'a different gospel' (Galatians 1: 6-9). Most Gnostics, and indeed many early Christians, believed in reincarnation; this may be why the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews emphasized in contrast that 'it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement' (9:27).


THE  APOSTLES  OF  CHRIST  KNEW  THE  TRUTH  AND  PREACHED  THE  TRUTH  -  Keith Hunt


Many Gnostics were extreme ascetics, denying themselves all pleasures of the (evil) flesh in order to purify or set free the spirit. Others, however, believed either that the evil God Yahweh, who was responsible for this world, thus bore the responsibility for all wickedness in it, which absolved them from responsibility for their actions; or that the spirituality of the gnosis put them above the petty restrictions of morality in the physical world; or, as the second-century Basilides seemed to teach, that in order to speed their soul's way through its reincarnations, they must perform as many acts of immorality as they could, as if to get them out of the way. Needless to say, whatever the rationale, the established Church did not look kindly on such behaviour.


OF  COURSE  NOT!  THE  BASIC  TEACHINGS  OF  MORALITY  ARE  VERY  CLEAR  IN  THE  NEW  TESTAMENT;  EVEN  FALSE  CHRISTIANITY  TEACHES  MORALITY;  A  REASON  IT  CAN  BE  DECEPTIVE  AND  APPEALING  AT  THE  SAME  TIME  -  Keith Hunt


But even with those whose lives were exemplary, the Church has always been suspicious of anyone claiming direct communication with God. Mystics are a classic example. Those who were clearly spiritual - living saints - and who kept to the rules in their outward behaviour, were tolerated - just. Those who seemed to put themselves above Church authority were not.


OF COURSE  THE  CATHOLIC  CHURCH  HAS  THE  POPE  WHO  IS  NEXT  TO  GOD  AND  CHRIST;  AS  SOME  SAID [DURING  THE  POPE'S  VISIT  TO  THE  USA]  -  HE'S  THE  CLOSEST  TO  GOD  ON  EARTH  -  Keith Hunt


It would be wrong to suggest that all mystics were Gnostic in their beliefs, but the emphasis on an individual, personal relationship with God which is the heart of mysticism is a hallmark of Gnosticism. It has always been wiser by far for those with Gnostic leanings to stay within the main body of their religion; and if they have to speak publicly about their mystical experiences, to do so in acceptable terms; and to keep the more radical aspects of their beliefs to themselves. Those who were less careful, over the centuries, were likely to meet the stake. After the first three or four centuries of the Christian era, Gnosticism, where it existed, kept very quiet.


YES  BECAUSE  ANYBODY  SPEAKING  DIFFERENT  FROM  THE  ROMAN  CATHOLIC  CHURCH  WAS  DEEMED  A  HERETIC  AND  CAME  UNDER  PERSECUTION,  EVEN  TORTURE  AND  DEATH  -  Keith Hunt


The stake, or the sword, was the establishment's answer when Gnosticism resurfaced (via Manichseist offshoots) in the Cathars or Albigensians of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries. Manichseism, founded by the Persian teacher Mani (216-76 CE), was in its early days a strong competitor to Christianity; it maintained a presence around the Mediterranean, and in parts of Asia and India until the thirteenth century, and traces of its beliefs were found in China as late as the seventeenth century.


Manichseism was not so much a Christian heresy as an alternative religion, drawing on Christianity, Gnosticism, Zoroastrianism, and very likely Buddhism. Two deities, of Light and Darkness, are in perpetual conflict; the God of Light is the creator of the soul, but we live in an evil world of matter created by the God of Darkness: the God of the Old Testament. The serpent in the garden was not evil, but good; it was attempting to bring Adam and Eve to true knowledge. Mankind contains sparks of the original divine light. As in Gnosticism, salvation comes from realizing the truth about God and man, or rather, God in man. Manichseans also believed in reincarnation. Most Manichseans, the 'hearers', would die and return, but the elect would be liberated from this cycle; the elect lived an ascetic life, eating no meat and abstaining from sex, on the grounds that procreation condemned more divine sparks to be trapped in human flesh. (It is worth noting that it was very likely Augustine's background in Manicharism which caused him to formulate the doctrine of Original Sin, and the sinfulness of sexual enjoyment.)


AND  SO  FALSE  DECEPTIVE  IDEAS  WERE  FORMED  FROM  FALSE  DECEPTIVE  IDEAS;  DECEPTION  WITHIN  DECEPTION  -  Keith Hunt


One feature to distinguish Manichseism from other Gnostic movements was that Mani set up an organization, a Church hierarchy with apostles and bishops, right from the start; this is probably why it survived longer than the others.


As well as in the Cathars, forms of Gnosticism - suitably veiled - also became apparent in the Sufis, possibly the Knights Templar, and certainly the Cabalists.


In different forms Gnosticism has resurfaced in more resent centuries, both in religious movements and in more secretive societies. The Hermetic Philosophers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were influenced by Gnosticism, and they in their turn influenced many organizations including the Rosicrucians, the Freemasons and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.


SO  THE  MORE  DECEPTION  WITHIN  DECEPTION  -  Keith Hunt


There is still a small Gnostic religion in present-day Iran and Iraq, called the Mandseans, who claim spiritual descent from John the Baptist rather than from Jesus. They believe in the Gnostic (and Zoroastrian) dualism of light and dark, and the soul imprisoned in the material body, and they look forward to a coming saviour, Manda d'Hayye (Knowledge of Life), from whom they take their name.


SOME  TRUTH  MIXED  WITH  MUCH  ERROR  -  MAKES  BIG  DECEPTION  -  Keith Hunt


Cabalism


In a phrase, Cabalism is esoteric Judaism practised also by esoteric Christians. The Cabala, or Kabbalah, or Qabala, is not just a set of texts, but a means of approaching these texts. The meaning of the Hebrew word qbl is variously given as 'received tradition' or 'mouth to ear'; in other words, its teachings were originally passed by word of mouth, only to those thought fit to receive them.


Although one recent scholar differentiates three different meanings for the three spellings9 - he sees Kabbalah as the original Jewish system, Cabala as the Renaissance Christian version of it, and Qabala as the modern occultist use of it - this is something of an ex post facto discrimination. There have been many varieties and uses of Cabalism over the centuries, and different people of different countries at different times have spelled it in different ways. 'Cabala' is used in this book (except in quotations or book titles) for three reasons: it is the simplest spelling; it avoids whatever specific resonances might be seen in the other spellings; and it is more clearly seen as the root of the word 'cabal', which has entered the language to mean a secret intrigue or a small powerful group, without any religious connotations.


There is some truth behind the affectionate stereotype of the Jewish love for telling stories with a moral. Cabalist writings delight in stories-with-a-message, allegories, parables, myths. So, of course, does the Bible, including the teachings of Jesus - a point missed by those who insist on a wholly literal interpretation of the Bible.


OH  THE  LITERAL  INTERPRETATION  OF  THE  BIBLE  AS  I  AND  OTHERS  WOULD  PUT  IT,  IS  NOT  WHAT  YOU  THINK  WE  MEAN  BY  THAT  PHRASE  -  Keith Hunt


The essence of Cabalism, as described in the Zohar, is that most people reading the Scriptures see only the outer story or, as it were, a suit of clothes; a few see the person within the clothes; a very few see the soul within the person. Cabalists look for the inner meaning, the secret meaning, the esoteric meaning; they seek to discern the secrets of God and of creation. One might recognize the beauty of a friend's clothes, and even admire them; but the true value of the friend is somewhat deeper.


YES  AND  SO,  ONLY  THE  INNER  FEW,  THE  "SECRET  GROUP"  CAN  REALLY  UNDERSTAND  THE  BIBLE;  BUT  IT  AIN'T  SO  -  Keith Hunt


Cabalism originated some 2,000 years ago. Educated Jews at the time of Christ were split into several factions, of which the rabbinical Pharisees - who followed oral tradition in their interpretation of the scriptures and the law - and the more conservative, aristocratic and literalist Sadducees - who did not believe in angels, demons or resurrection - are mentioned in the New Testament. There were also the nationalistic Zealots, who had political motivations, and the pious Essenes, who some think were Gnostic. Although they all shared the Torah - the Law, the Pentateuch, and by extension the whole Old Testament - they had very different ways of approaching it and interpreting it. So did the Jewish mystics, later known as Cabalists. Based in rabbinical Judaism, in their search for spiritual enlightenment they borrowed over the years both from Jewish Gnosticism and from Jewish Neo-Platonism and Neo-Aristotelianism.

                                             

As the Jews were scattered and persecuted throughout Europe over the next millennium and a half, it was important for them to maintain both their scholarship and their spirituality. While medieval Christian priests were often almost completely uneducated, and their bishops often morally and politically corrupt, medieval Jewish rabbis were renowned for their learning and their piety. 


'Rabbi' is Hebrew for 'my master', and rabbis were teachers and judges of their people, and interpreters of the Law, rather than priests, though they did conduct ritual ceremonies.


Spirituality and scholarship is a powerful combination. In seeking a greater understanding of and closeness to God, many rabbis delved deeper into their studies of the Torah and the Talmud, the written body of rabbinical tradition and interpretation of the Law. The Babylonian Talmud dates in its written form to around 500 CE, but the Talmud could in one sense be said to be ever-unfinished, as later rabbis have added their interpretations and commentaries on it right up to the present day.


With a religion so based on Law, the interpretation of Law is vitally important: hence the importance of, and the deep respect given to rabbis. In any organization there is always a conflict between those who insist on obeying the letter of the law, and those who believe it more important to follow the spirit of the law; there are traditionalists and legalists (by no means always the same thing), and liberals, and supporters of a variety of different emphases. Legalists should not automatically be condemned - in the way that liberals are prone to condemning them - for small-mindedness; some follow the letter of the law because of the importance to them of the spirit of the law, i.e. the underlying reasons behind what might appear to others to be petty legalisms. This can apply to Cabalists, and certainly includes devoted members of some ritual-based societies today.


Cabalists always favoured a more allegorical rather than a literalist approach to the Torah and the Talmud. They also believed that truth could be found deep within the texts themselves, within the words and even the letters. One of the first Cabalistic works was the Sefer Yesirah, the Book of the Creation (second- to fifth-century); this first set down the concept of the 10 sephiroth (singular, sephira) and the 22 paths between them, showing already the importance that the 10 numbers and 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet would have to Cabalism. As with Roman numerals, Hebrew letters also represented numbers, and numbers, as Pythagoras taught, are powerfully symbolic of God and man and the relationship between them.10


Cabalism became more formalized in the tenth century, initially in Italy and then in Germany. The twelfth-century Sefer ha-Bahir (Book of Brilliance) emphasized the concept of the Shekhinah (Hebrew: 'dwelling') or presence or immanence, as the female aspect of God. Cabalism came of age in the thirteenth century in Provence in southern France, then shortly afterwards in Spain, where the Zohar was written (or perhaps compiled), largely by Moses de Leon, around 1285 - though the myth surrounding it attributes the teachings to the second-century Rabbi Simeon bar Yohai. The Sefer ha-Zohary to give it its full title, means 'the Book of Splendour'; it teaches that God is essentially unknowable and indescribable, using the term Aiw-So/Hebrew: 'without end'). Everything in the universe is connected to everything else, and all is an expression of God. The ultimate purpose of humankind is to attain mystical union with God, and Cabalism teaches ways towards this. The best-known aspect of the Cabala is the diagram of the Tree of Life. According to Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki, Director of Studies of the Servants of the Light school of occult science, it contains 'the entire wisdom of the Qabalah... Owing to its simplicity ... the glyph is easily committed to memory; and because of its profundity, from this sparse simplicity can be derived a complete and satisfying philosophy and knowledge of life in both its inner and outer aspects.'11


The Tree of Life shows the relationship between God and his creation; it symbolizes both God reaching down to man, and man reaching up to God. The 10 sephiroth symbolize the 10 rays of light of God's creation of the universe, and thus the secrets of the universe. They show the levels of man's knowledge of the divine, but more importantly, they reveal attributes of God, which can be thought of as names of God. The sacred name of God, represented by the Hebrew letters for YHWH, or the tetragrammaton, was believed to be too holy to pronounce.


The 10 sephiroth are Kether, the Crown, Chokmah, Wisdom, Binahy, Understanding, Chesed, Mercy, Geburah, Power, Tipharethy, Beauty or Harmony, Netzach, Victory, Hod, Splendour, Yesod, Foundation, and Malkuthy, Kingdom. They and the paths between them correspond to numbers and letters, to colours, planets, angels, parts of the body, and much else; such correspondences are at the heart of ritual magic. Much later, correspondences were found between the 22 paths and the 22 cards of the Major Arcana of Tarot.


With the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal in 1492, Cabalism spread across Europe, and came more to the attention of Christian mystics and occultists. By the sixteenth century it was a major part of the studies of the alchemists and Hermetic Philosophers.


The complex symbolism of the Cabala, embodying both the theoretical and the practical, exemplifies the link between mysticism and magic, and also the importance of myth as a means of expressing truths. The deep spiritual teachings within it became central to all esoteric religion in the West, and remain so today in many secret societies.


SO  THE  JEWS  ARE  NOT  WITHOUT  THEIR  FALSE  IDEOLOGIES  -  DECEPTION  WITHIN  DECEPTION  -  Keith Hunt


Sufism


Sufism is mystical Islam; but it is much more than that. In the same way that Cabalists made orthodox Jews uneasy, Sufis raised an uncomfortable mixture of respect and fear among orthodox Muslims. And in the same way that Cabalist teachings have extended way beyond Judaism, Sufi writings have been an inspiration to Jewish and Christian mystics and, today, to followers of other esoteric paths, including those with 'New Age' beliefs.


The early history of Islam is complex. Briefly, the split into the two main divisions of the religion, Sunni and Shi'ite, occurred within half a century of Muhammad's death, and the more radical Shi'ites then split into several more groups over the centuries. Although the origins of Sufism are veiled in that confused state between history and myth, it is known that mystical Islam began very early, probably in the seventh century CE. Sufis claim that Muhammad himself, and his son-in-law Ali, were Sufis.


The name Sufi derives from the Arabic word for 'wool-clad', and refers to the rough wool robe worn by many ascetic mystics, Christian as well as Muslim. There are also possible links to the Arabic safa, 'purity'; the Hebrew Ain Sof, 'without end', the Cabalist term for the unknowable God; and even Sophia, the Greek term for the (female) Wisdom persona of God.


As with the Gnostic and the Cabalist, the Sufi seeks to know the unknowable, to find unity with God. God is in all things, and all things are in God: a common mystical belief, but one which critics have always claimed smacks of pantheism. As with all mysticism, within paradox is found truth; it is both infinitely complex, and ultimately simple. The Sufi interpretation of the Koran is esoteric and allegorical. Sufis, by seeking an individual, personal union with God above all else, put themselves beyond the control of the hierarchies of formal Islam.


It is easy to see how Jewish Cabalists, Christian Gnostics and Muslim Sufis have more in common with each other than with their parent religions - and also to see why the orthodox 'establishments' of all three religions have persecuted those with such heterodox beliefs. Heresy, as always, is defined by orthodoxy.


AGAIN  DECEPTION  WITHIN  DECEPTION  -  CAN  MAKE  EVEN  MORE  DECEPTION  -  AS  SAYING  "WE  HAVE  MORE  TRUTH  THAN  OUR  LARGE  BODY"  -  Keith Hunt


After several centuries of persecution Sufism became accepted, even respected, in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries; as in Judaism, spirituality and scholarship were a strong combination, and many orthodox Muslim theologians of the time embraced and helped define Sufi teachings. The Shi'ites, however, remained antagonistic towards Sufism and, even today in Pakistan, members of the Ahmadi sect of Sufism can be arrested, and have been killed, for doing or saying anything 'to injure the feelings of a Muslim'.


For outsiders, Sufism is known mainly for the famous 'whirling dervishes' who dance themselves into an ecstatic state, and for its beautiful poetry which often describes the loving union between man and God in erotic terms. (While no doubt horrifying to devout Muslims and Christians alike, this is not unique to Sufism; a modern comparison could be the work of the Canadian Jewish poet and singer - and Buddhist priest - Leonard Cohen, which focuses almost entirely on sex and God,)


In its early days, Sufism was influenced by Eastern Orthodox Christian mystics, by Neo-Platonism, and even by some aspects of Hinduism, particularly Advaita Vedantism. Sufis have always had a close relationship with mystics and philosophers of other religious traditions; the experience of a deep loving union with God transcends religious boundaries. It is known that in medieval times, even at the time of the Crusades, some Christians and some Muslims cooperated with each other, and learned about each other's mystical beliefs. Similarly, particularly in Spain, Cabalistic Jews and Muslim Moors shared their teachings.


Although most secret societies and the vast majority of Freemasons today probably know little about Sufism, it holds a vital place in the development of esoteric thought from two millennia or more ago, up to the present day.


The poet and historical novelist Robert Graves calls the Sufis 'an ancient spiritual freemasonry', and goes on to state as fact, 'Indeed, Freemasonry itself began as a Sufi society. It first reached England in the reign of King Aethelstan (924-939) and was introduced into Scotland disguised as a craft guild at the beginning of the fourteenth century, doubtless by the Knights Templar.12

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TO  BE  CONTINUED


SO  WE  SEE  THE  MANY  DECEPTIONS,  EVEN  WITHIN  DECEPTIONS,  AND  WE  SEE  THE  OVERALL  BACKGROUND  TO  THE  ESTABLISHING  OF  "SECRET  SOCIETIES"  WHO  HAVE  THIS  MIND-SET  THAT  THEY  ARE  JUST  ABOVE  THE  AVERAGE  PERSON;  THEY  HAVE  SECRET  TRUTHS [AS  THEY  SEE  IT]  THAT  ONLY  VERY  FEW  HAVE.  SO  A  WRONG  VANITY  AND  PRIDE  ENTERS  THE  HUMAN  CARNAL  MIND.  IT  PLAYS  TO  THE  HUMAN  EGO  OF  WE  ARE  SPECIAL  AND  HAVE  SECRETS  THAT  WE  CANNOT  SHARE  WITH  YOU,  IN  ANY  OPEN  WAY.  ALL  THOSE  IDEAS  ARE  DIAMETRICALLY  OPPOSED  TO  THE  RELIGION  OF  GOD  THE  FATHER  AND  HIS  SON  JESUS  CHRIST.  THEIR  TRUTHS  ARE  TO  BE  PROCLAIMED  LOUD  AND  CLEAR,  TO  BE  GIVEN  OUT  FREELY  TO  ALL  PEOPLES  OF  ALL  NATIONS.


THIS  WEBSITE  IS  ONE  OF  THOSE  LIGHTS  THAT  IS  SET  ON  THE  TABLE  TO  GIVE  TRUTH  AND  LIGHT,  TO  ALL  WHO  COME  WANTING  AND  LOOKING  FOR  THE  TRUTHS  OF  THE  ETERNAL  GOD.


AND  HIS  SON  CHRIST  JESUS  SAID,  THOSE  THAT  HUNGER  AND  THIRST  AFTER  RIGHTEOUSNESS  SHALL  BE  FILLED.


Keith Hunt